2018-01-03 / Families & Friends

Christmas brought family gatherings


DORA CAUDILL PENNINGTON (MY MAMAW PENNY} DORA CAUDILL PENNINGTON (MY MAMAW PENNY} By JEANETTE TACKET YONTS With DOROTHY PENNINGTON TACKET and JOY YONTS HAMPTON

We sure had a blessed Christmas and our church services were wonderful, too. Mom said and I also saw on Facebook they had two women baptized at Millstone Missionary Baptist. I bet that was a wonderful Christmas present for their families and themselves too.

I wanted to put an entry in this week written by our daughter, Joy. She is our only child and is married to David Hampton. They have three children ages 14, 13, and six.

“As a kid, Christmas was a time I looked forward to all year. My out-of-town cousins came in and there were so many kids under one roof at one grandparents’ house. At the other grandparents’ house I was the only girl for most of my childhood, which left me entitled to special treatment. We all played and ate and played more. We all got gifts, and opening them took forever and then we played with the new gifts. We snuck into back bedrooms and told secrets.


This photograph of Della Howard Pennington, Dorothy Pennington Tacket, Charlene Tacket Mason, David Pennington, Delores Tacket Holbrook, and I, Jeanette, Yonts, was taken at the head of Stinking Branch. In the background you can see the home of Chester and Margie Pennington Adams. This photograph of Della Howard Pennington, Dorothy Pennington Tacket, Charlene Tacket Mason, David Pennington, Delores Tacket Holbrook, and I, Jeanette, Yonts, was taken at the head of Stinking Branch. In the background you can see the home of Chester and Margie Pennington Adams. Whitesburg

“ The adults played card games and laughed a lot. There was coffee and candies and the women cleaned up and washed dishes while the men took out trash and loaded cars. We were shooed off to ‘go play with your cousins because you never get to see them,’ and, ‘hush now, we are playing Rook! Go play with your new toys!’

“There was always someone napping peacefully, belly full and feet up.


Joy Yonts Hampton shares a hug with her Papaw Marshel Tacket. Joy Yonts Hampton shares a hug with her Papaw Marshel Tacket. “Sometimes we’d dress up and put on a show to entertain everyone. Sometimes we’d sneak into love letters my papaw wrote my mamaw and giggle to each other behind tiny hands. Sometimes one of us got hurt and we’d have to confess a broken bone or a scrape.

“Often we’d fall asleep in heaped piles on beds and wake up to being carried to a car to drive home. It was an all day affair for both grandparents’ homes and one I enjoyed. I’d wake up smelling faintly of moth balls and turkey gravy. I may or may not have on my cousin’s coat or socks.

“I was an only child and cousins were my substitute siblings. Some of us are still close and our kids have that fondness for each other. We get to watch our kids grow up with that same excitement for each other that we had. Now we share grown up adventures, new homes, trials of teenagers, blackberry picking, the occasional hurt little one that gets brought to our home for some holistic meds, conversations about our parents that no one else would understand.

“My mamaws are still here on Earth but my papaws are gone. Their houses still echo with those memories for me. It was nothing short of magic.”

“As for the Christmases I remember at my Mamaw Pennington’s, they were pretty much the same when it came to the joy we felt about being with our cousins.

“We didn’t go to her house until Christmas Day though and we took our baby dolls with us to show her and to play with too. We always had snow on the ground at Christmas back when I was young and one year there wasn’t any snow until Christmas Eve. It snowed all night and we didn’t think we would be able to go to Mamaw’s that day, but Daddy was a daredevil, believe it or not, when it came to snow.

“ So, off we go to Mamaw’s. We get about halfway up Stinking Branch and can’t go any farther. So, Daddy just pulls off the road and parks at Ora Mason’s house, which is now where Bill and Imogene Thomas Smith live, and we walk the rest of the way. Which was all the way to the head of the holler. I remember going in the door and Mamaw being so surprised to see us. She didn’t have a phone and neither did we so she had no idea we were coming and probably thought she was going to be all alone that Christmas.

“I remember the look and smell of that kitchen like it was yesterday. I remember her looking at my doll and taking on over it like it was the prettiest thing she had ever seen. I don’t think any of Mom’s brothers or sisters were there that day because of the snow so this was a Christmas without any cousins, but one I remember well anyway. I would love for my grandkids to be able to experience Christmas the way it was back then.”

If you are looking for something to do to celebrate New Year’s, there are many New Year’s Eve church services in the community Sunday night. I know Millstone Missionary Baptist is having their normal services of praying the old year our and the new year in. I guarantee you won’t have to hunt for a designated driver if you attend this type of celebration.

And once again, remember what Oma always said about attending church Sunday if it’s possible and I say if your church has services Sunday night or throughout the week, God would definitely want you there then too.

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